In New Jersey, as in other states, when a child lives with a parent after divorce that parent does not bear the financial burden of supporting the child alone. Instead, state law requires that the other, non-custodial, parent pay a fair share of the child's expenses. This is known as child support -- and it is calculated according to a specific formula.
Income Shares Model
New Jersey uses an incomes shares model for calculating support. With this formula, the net incomes of both parents are combined to produce a total household income. Next, a basic support obligation based on the combined income is taken from a chart in the child support guidelines. The basic support obligation is divided between the parents according to the percentage of income each contributes to the combined income. Payment of medical insurance and childcare expenses are factored into the equation. The non-custodial parent is responsible for an amount of the obligation based on the proportion of his income to the total household income. The basis of this model is that the child receives the same proportion of the parent’s income as he would receive if the parents still lived together.
Guideline support amounts are based on standard child care expenses in New Jersey. For that reason, before the calculation is run, a parent may ask that the court make adjustments to correctly account for a child's actual support needs. Additional expenses not covered by the guideline include private schooling costs or tutoring, which would then result in a higher total support amount. After the calculation is run, the non-custodial parent is then entitled to a reduction in his actual support obligation to account for any overnights he has with the child. This is based on the assumption that a parent is already supporting a child that is living with him.
If the spouses have a combined annual income greater than $187,200, the New Jersey guidelines do not apply. This means that the court has the freedom to arrive at an appropriate support payment amount after considering several factors addressed in the state statutes. These factors include the needs of the child and parents, each parent's type of income and sources of income, as well as the standard of living the child enjoyed while you were married.
Once a child support order is in place in New Jersey, a parent may request that it be increased or decreased in the future. For a modification in child support, one or both parents will have to show the court that a change in circumstance has occurred since the previous order was issued. Such changes in circumstance might include adjustments in parenting time, illness or disability of the parents or child, or loss of employment.